Blog Features

Blog Review | A Mind Lively and at Ease

I have had the pleasure of working with Maria K on previous reviews and giveaways and consider her now a friend. She is the author of two books, Stories for Anastasia and Ukrainian Vignettes, and both have received rave reviews from Kristin and Stacy Marie, my book reviewers. Not only is she an accomplished author, but she is also very talented in the art of pyrography! Check out her etsy shop and see her artwork and gorgeous jewelry! She is participating in my Valentine’s Day Event too so you will have another opportunity to win something special from her shop.

Today, I want to let you all know about her blog, A Mind Lively and at Ease. I have recently become a follower and enjoy Maria’s writing. She always has something interesting to say. It’s been wonderful getting to know her and I hope you all can get to know her too!

I had the chance to catch up with Maria and ask her a few questions about herself and her blog so please check it out…

Please tell me about yourself.

I was born and raised in Zaporozhye, Ukraine. Came to the States in 1994 to study engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY). Clawed my way through the immigration system and finally received my US Citizenship in the summer of 2008. I have worked a variety of jobs from straight project engineering to administrative to project management to analytical. I currently live in Kings Mountain, NC and work full time for Bank of America as an operations research analyst. In addition to the job, I also write, draw, do decorative woodburning and train in nihon goshin aikido.

Please tell me about your blog.

I have always enjoyed writing – literally, since I learned how to write. I have discovered, however, that fiction was not my strongest suit. Non-fiction – that was a whole different matter! I never ran into a writer’s block when talking about real life, real events, real experiences. All three of my books are collections of non-fiction essays, and the blog is essentially a variation on the same theme – it is a collection of essays that are too varied in subject to warrant their own book. Much of it has to do with fashion and style, but there are quite a few articles on other subjects: politics, history, physical and mental health, communication, etiquette, etc.

The title of the blog “A mind lively and at ease” is based on a Jane Austen quote, “A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.” The introductory quote is by Jane Austen’s father “Fusions of fancy by a very young girl in a style entirely new”. I picked it because I feel very young at heart and would like to stay that way, and because I don’t “polish” my writing for the blog – what you see there is almost exactly the way it formed in my mind before I typed it up.

Who does your blog appeal to?

The fashion-related articles are mostly women-oriented, although I started addressing men’s fashion as well. The rest of it goes out to everyone who likes to read and think.

What prompted you to start a blog?

Accumulation of material in my journal that I didn’t see using in a book in a near future. I wanted to share it while it was still fresh, and the blog was a logical vehicle to do so.

What direction do you see your blog heading in the future?

The blog evolves with me and with the rest of the world. Very rarely do I have days when I struggle for a topic to review and put up for discussion – life always presents me with something. That said, I would like to include more book reviews. Not necessarily as the books are freshly-published or shoot to the top of the besteseller list, but rather as I read them and take time to appreciate them. My first serious review was actually a book / movie combination on Belarussian writer Vladimir Korotkevich’s historic mystery novel Savage Hunt of King Stakh. I was very pleased with the way it turned out so I am definitely looking forward to writing more. I would also like to do more museums and restaurants review – I live in a very small town and good places to visit and dine at can be hard to find.

What do you love about blogging?

The freedom of it. I am actually a fairly shy person in real life and sometimes have difficulties connecting with people in person. Blogging allows me to reach out to complete strangers, knowing that they might very well become long-distance friends, because if they didn’t like what I wrote they wouldn’t be reading the blog in the first place.

Do you have any blogging pet peeves?

Sometimes, a reader comes along, who only comments with the intention of insult and disagreement. Yes, it’s a free forum. Yes, everyone’s opinion is appreciated. However, I honestly don’t understand, why would anyone continue reading my work, if he or she really dislikes it so much. I don’t like to police my readers – I don’t even moderate the comments. But sometimes I am tempted to put a comment blocker up because of an occasional burst of senseless negativity.

What kinds of topics do you write about?

Everything that catches my attention. Clothes, shoes and accessories – of course, because I am so into dressing up – constitute at least a half of all my posts. Other than that – anything goes: food, shopping, politics, immigration reform, books, movies, history, public speaking, event organizing, you name it…

Do you have any regular features on your blog?

Yes – two of them. One is the “today I love” feature that summarizes a variety of things that made my day interesting. Sometimes they have a common topic, like the “Today I declare war on ugly bags” post or “Today I love shopping off the beaten path” entry. Sometimes, the collection of things can be quite random.

The other regular feature is “Look book”. I actually have a look book of my own – it’s a binder with interesting outfits and accessories assembled from various magazines and catalogs over the years. It gives me ideas on how to leverage what I have in my wardrobe in fresh ways. The “look book” blogs are my own personal photo shoots demonstrating outfits that came together particularly well on a given day. Until recently, most of the “look book” entries were for women, but I have since done two including gentlemen’s looks as well and intend to do more.

Name some of your favourite blogs that you read.

Julie Parker’s “Beautiful You”, Sally McGraw’s “Already Pretty”, “Charade” by Megan (I forgot her last name), writer Deanna Raybourn’s daily posts and my recent subscription – “My Marrakech” by Maryam

Tell me some of the links to your favourite posts on your blog.

Hopeless Romantic – a post on incorporating old-fashioned elements into a contemporary wardrobe ( I had a lot of fun pulling this one together – looking through all the beautiful sites, trying to find the best sources and images.

The Power of Words – post on public speaking and writing ( . This was a “frustrated” blog. It comes from my growing puzzlement and dismay with so many people’s refusal to communicate eloquently. If we strip away all the technology, all the instant messaging and Twitter, we still have to get the message through. So, why not learn how to do it, regardless of what devices you have to assist you?

How can readers find you?

A mind lively and at ease can be found on at:
It has also recently become available to Kindle subscribers at:


Maria has generously offered the Eye of Ra Necklace to giveaway to one lucky reader! This necklace carries a wood medallion with one of the most recognizable Egyptian symbols – the Eye of Ra – burned into the wood. The necklace is approximately 18″ long and includes silver-plated notions and clasp, cobalt glass beads and genuine green agate.

Giveaway closed.

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

more by Stacie »